By Edith Morgan
Once upon a time (last century, actually) we Americans were all very rich. Of course, most of us did not know that, so let me tell you:
We,the people, owned so much public property, so many publuc buildings, so many public facilities, so many great American services … Actually, I had an old inventor friend who, when the national debt ballooned, suggested that we could wipe it out by mortgaging our public properties to ourselves – and pay it all off.
What did we own? Millions of acres of beautiful parklands, canyons, lakes, forests, natural wonders.
We built libraries, federal buildings, bridges, interstate highways, cross-country railroads and wonderful national services (the U.S. Postal Service is one).
We, the American public, also owned the airwaves, which we rented out in three-year terms to providers, to be renewed after they had proved that they were serving the public good: education and entertainment.
Much of this public wealth was acquired after the Great Depression of 1929 – as the Roosevelt administration saved the capitalist system by implementing “the New Deal.” Millions of Americans were put to work, building up America: we built – for much needed paychecks – libraries, bridges, public buildings, parks, schools, playgrounds – and services. By mid-20th-century, we had a postal services that went daily to EVERY city, town, suburb, village and rural address in America – and to our troops overseas! And connected us to every other nation with such a system.
Many of us took these great assets for granted, and used them, and sometimes abused them. But they were equally available to all – and our taxes maintained them. So we have the Grand Canyon and all the surrounding gorgeous parkland, Mount Rushmore, all our great national parks throughout our states, and many of the schools and other buildings still standing from that time.
But for several decades now there has been a concerted effort (a plot, really) to “privaaaaaaaaaaatize” our assets, to take them out of our hands and put them into the hands of profiteers who will keep us out, or charge us to use them – or destroy them in a hundred ways for short-term profit, while destroying them for future use.
What has happened to our airwaves is especially disturbing: we no longer have any criteria about service. Now the only criterion is: do you have enough money to run programs on the frequency assigned to you? And so this noble property now runs 24 hours a day, filling the space with mostly advertising and reruns in summer, with a rare space given to quality, artistry, and education. And every year the time soaked up by interminable ads, one following upon the other, without pause.
There are, out of the hundreds of channels, two or three still supported by a small amount of public funding and donations. But increasingly making money dominates the airwaves, leaving us, the American public, with only the choice of changing channels, or turning it off.
Our public lands are under attack: deforestation, grazing in our parks, mining fracking, selling off huge pieces of land, over-use by an ever-growing population – polluting rivers, lakes, and even the ocean.
And, of course, lest we get wise and vote in a government that will preserve these great bounties for us and future generations, there is now a concerted effort to wreck our postal service, so that not enough of us can vote comfortably by mail! President Trump is the tip of the sledge hammer …
WHEN WILL WE WAKE UP????
FYI! Love PBS’s FRONTLINE:
Still haven’t bought SHOOT OUT THE LIGHTS! Must own this classic! – Rose